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the hand of providence, raised up and sent forth among inankind, to punish their diso. bedience and rebellion against the King of kings. Thus it is said, " And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite : he was of the king's seed in Edom." David acknowledges a divine providence even in the vile conduct of the wicked, where he answers respecting the curses of Shimei, in the following words, 66 So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Let him alone, and let him curse : for the Lord hath bid. den him." The same is signified in Mica. iah's vision, as follows; as I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heav. en standing by him, on his right hand and on his lcfr.
And the Lord said, Who shall pursuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall. at Ramoth-gilead ? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith ? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also : go forth, and do so. Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these chý prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee;" These false prophets, it seems, were the instruments of God's indignation upon Ahab, as well as the archer who smote him
that he died. Their sin itself was the means, by which Jehovah accomplished his own purpose. All the good and all the evil, that are experienced in this world, are from the hand of God, notwithstanding they flow in upon us through such channels. The mercies of God to his church, in turning again her captivity, were bestowed through the hands of Cyrus, who knew not him, in whose cause he was acting, and by whom he had been raised up and anointed to do this service. His being an idolater, a wicked man, was no hindrance to his being a proper instrument, by which the great God might redeem his people. Others after him, with the same ignorance of God and devotedness, to idols, though with less natural ubanity and clemency, were instruments, by which God was pleased greatly to try the faith and sincerity of his people.
Most of the distress, which comes upon nations and individuals, is, through the perverse and injurious conduct of men: is it, therefore, not from God? and are we, for this reason, not to receive and improve it as a divine chastening ? Surely this would be as contrary to the common concessions of mankind, as it is to the
general tenour of the scriptures. A writer* of the Roman Catholic communion, surveying the evils of the French revolution, more particularly as religion is concerned, observes; “The unbeliever and the usurper impelled the Jacobins ; the Jacobins bullied the huguenots;
* Abbe Barruela
the devil encouraged them all with the same phrenzy. Thus God made use of them all to try his church.” No sentiment is, perhaps, more universal, among believers in a divine provi. dence, than thit events, whether prosperous or adverse, originate from the hand of God, and that consequently creatures, who are concerned in bringing them to pass, are but the instruments of that providence, by which such events are produced. If a fellow-crea. ture relieves our distress, that relief we owe to the power and goodness of God. If he does us an injury, and fills us with pain, can we say that such an evil has been in the city and the Lord hath not done it ? Are not our calamities, whether few or many, whether great or small, whether derived through the agency of men òr some other way, to be all traced to the governing influence and power of the supreme Being ? If this be true, which it is impossible for us to deny, then the wicked may be, and are, the instruments, by which God executes many of his providential purposes. We proceed to the
2d. Argument in favour of the doctrine, that wicked beings are used as instruments in the work of divine government, which is this, viz. that they are often likened, in the scriptures, to instruments in common use a mong men. By this I do not mean, that the wicked are resembled to certain natural things, which may be, or sometimes are, put to use upon some of the occasions of life, as. for instance, the devil is likened to a roaring
lion, and this animal, it is well known, is sometimes used for a show to extort money from persons of a curious eye. I acknowl. edge it would be absurd to argue, that the devil is an instrument, because he is likened to a roaring lion, an animal that may be used as an instrument of avarice or diversion. But what I would here suggest is, that the wicked, under the government and control of the supreme Being, are likened to things, which are, in their own nature, instruments of workmanship in the hands of an artist. It is well known, that certain things do exist, in relation to some particular purpose ; and, aside from this, they would be as nothing What would be swords and spears,
if there were no such thing as war ? The very mention of the former conveys an idea of the latter. And what would be plow.shares and pruning-hooks, if the art of husbandry were a thing unknown ? It is certain that such things could not exist.
It would imply as much of an absurdity, as to say that creatures may exist without a creator ; or that a square may exist in the form of a globe. Relative things, without their peculiar relations, are nothing. Would it be possible to conceive of an army without a general and other officers to command it, and put it in motion ? It would be easy enough to conceive of a concourse of men, sufficiently large to constitute an army, having no head or chief among them ; but without proper officers it could not be an army. And how
could one form an idea of a sceptre, without a king, or magistrate, to wield it? The two ideas necessarily go together, and cannot ex
A sceptre can be nothing else but an instrument of authority, or power, in the hand of magistracy. Viewing it in any other light, is actually depriving it of a being. There are words expressive of relations as well as of things; and when such words are used, it is the relation that is aimed at, and nothing else.
you speak of a sword, for instance, you mean not merly a plate of iron, or steel, of a particular shape, and with a sharp edge. This will not, of itself, make it a sword. It must be designed for war, for the purpose of human slaughter.
Its being adapted to this use, is the great thing, which gives it its name. Could you, therefore, compare any thing to a sword, without bringing in the idea of its fitness to promote mis. ery and death, and that not by any self-moving power of its own, but as used and ap. plied by the hand of another? Whatever cru. eħties and horrours are caused by the sword, we do not ascribe to it, only as an instrument in the hand of the warrior. It can effect nothing by itself. I have introduced these remarks, that we might be helped to see clearly, that wherever God likens the wick. ed to such things, as men employ for instru. ments in their several callings, or to answer their particular occasions, the comparison holds just so far as their instruinentality extends.
He that is holy and true hath said